Blender not required

Blender not required

Rum used to be for sloshing with Coke or whirring into boozy slushies. Now that boutique distillers have their hands on it, it’s also for sipping

Jasper’s Rum Punch (left) (Images: Dave Gillespie)

Rum has been swept up in the craft movement, and distillers are tinkering with wood aging and fancy cask conditioning to make all kinds of luxurious sipping options. Unlike scotch or bourbon, there are no strict rules for how to produce rum—yeast, water and molasses (or sugar cane juice) are fermented, distilled and aged—and the range is astonishing. In Toronto, a good place to start sampling is at Jen Agg’s Haitian party room, Rhum Corner, one of the first bars to seriously dig into the resurgence of rum (she offers more than 40 types). New on the scene is Miss Thing’s, a retro-cool ­Polynesian bar in Parkdale that ditches the kitschy tiki trappings. It’s not strictly a rum bar, but they pour a heck of a lot of it. Their umbrella cocktails are goofy fun, but we recommend a tasting flight for a serious epiphany. “Rums that are aged well are more like a fine cognac,” says Reed ­Pettit, who runs the bar. “You get all of the gingerbread flavour, and all the molasses, but without any of the alcoholic heat.” Once you nix the sugary rush of a mix, flavours like vanilla, banana, almond, boozy fruitcake, dark chocolate and even tobacco march forward.

Jasper’s Rum Punch

450 mL Brugal Añejo (or any mid-range amber rum)
450 mL Jasper’s Secret Mix (juice from 12 limes, 1¹/⁴ cup white sugar, 1 whole nutmeg, grated, and 45 mL Angostura bitters)

Stir together in a large pitcher, pour over crushed ice into chilled glasses, and garnish with lime curls (if you’re feeling fancy). Serves 10.

“It’s a classic Jamaican punch—sour, sweet and refreshing,” says Pettit.

At Home: Stock your bar cart with these excellent rums

Blender Not Required
Havana Club Añejo 3 Años
LCBO 337667

This is a basic vanilla- and banana-scented rum that’s great for building cocktails. It’s what you’ll reach for to mix a daiquiri.

Blender Not Required
Bacardi 8 Años
LCBO 492520

“Best all-round choice for your money,” says Pettit. Apricot and nutmeg make it nice for sipping, or as the base for a rum old fashioned.

Blender Not Required
Ron Zacapa 23 Centenario Rum
LCBO 273516

This top-shelf bottle, with its toffee aroma, is made for after-dinner swirling. Serve it in a rocks glass with a large chunk of ice.